January 13, 2008

I am Frankenstein's monster

This morning, I feel like Frankenstein - i.e. returned from the dead, walking stiffly, and generally communicating only through grunts, moans of pain, a wild thrashing of my arms in response to fire. OK, so the tea was merely blisteringly hot, not actually on fire. But my arms sure thought it would help cool my mouth by waving frantically while I tried to decide whether to try to swallow or just spit the tea out. A very comical way to begin a rest day.

The walking stiffly is easily explained, and I'll get to it; but first, we need to do a Wayne's World wipe and travel back in time to four days ago, a terrifically rainy Wednesday.

---dodoloo doodoloo doodoolooo *fingers waving*---

Wednesday. It is bright and warm-ish. A good day for a run. But for some reason, I can't seem to make it happen. I forget to actually look at my training plan and so clump my way through a very rough three miles of "speed training". Somehow, I got out of sync with my watch. I mistook an autolap beep for a 1-mile mark or something and the first repeat was all off. And these were very hard repeats, even though my speed was actually slower than it was last week. One lesson from today's run is: turn off auto-lap when doing a speed workout. The other lesson is: more warmup. These speed workouts are going to work better if I'm not doing them along third avenue under the BQE. I think the warmup period is going to involve jogging up to Prospect Park, then I can commence speedwork relatively unfettered. So this run sucked. Next week will be better, I'm sure.

Absolutely nothing got done Thursday, training-wise. Not even the core exercises scheduled. I was too busy making this logo for the national Sportster rally happening in June. One of the riders I went to Alaska with is producing it now and many of us donate our time or talents to helping. This is all I could manage to offer. It's not the best logo the rally has ever had (this is its fifth year), but it is intentionally a throwback to some of the cheesier logos of the 70's and pays particular homage to a venerated Sportster rider who passed from our ranks this year. Can you guess who?

(This is for the pin, which will have a gold background. the shirt will be on black background and the logo looks even better. But the pinmaker needed artwork NOW.)

Friday morning comes. I have an appointment in town at 9:30 and so get my ass out of bed at about 6:00. I have to move my bike for alternate side, so I decide to get that done before my shower. It is raining. Hard. Ugh. This is going to be a shitty-ass day, I can tell. I move my bike, come inside, make a cup of tea, and seriously consider moving to the Philippines. It may rain there, but at least it stays warm and the cost of living is dirt cheap. Two hours later, I'm headed out the door. Miraculously, the rain lets up enough for me to walk to the subway without getting wet. I have an umbrella with me, but do not need it. And again, the rain lets up briefly while I walk to 9 West 57th street. My appointment's on the 46th floor. I am suitably impressed by the location; it is across from my sports doctor's office and is a building I've contemplated many times from that vantage point. It is the tallest building on the block and is rather well-known in architectural circles. Up on the 46th floor, I can't see dick. I can barely make out the groundplan of Central Park's southern environs through the mist (we are actually up in the clouds at that height) on one side of the building. On the other side, vague intimations of other skyscrapers.

Well, appointment over with, I head home. I no sooner get in the door than the skies open up again. I decide it may rain all day, and it's cold enough I'm not going to run in the rain. I go back to bed. I wake up about 3 and find the rain has just stopped and, in fact, it's getting brighter out. I groan and put on my running clothes, cinch up the heart rate monitor's chest strap, and get going. Since I failed to do 4 miles on Wednesday, I'd have to make it up today. But damned if I'm going for speed. I'm going to take this slow and easy.

Though I set my watch for an OwnZone workout (the watch beeps if my heartrate goes too high or too low for good training), it somehow ends up on the speed workout program again. So my watch continues to beep the entire run at strange intervals. Walking, I am proud to say, was kept to an absolute bare minimum. None, in fact. All of the pauses on the graph are explained by traffic or by the two short periods of stretching I did, one just prior to the mile mark and one at the turnaround point.

As I get to about 1.5 miles, the clouds move aside enough for the setting sun to break through and all of a sudden, I'm enveloped in a warm, shiny, orange world. Everything is wet - still dripping even - and yet bathed in this surreal low-Kelvin light. Coming back, I see my shadow stretch out in front of me, urging me on faster. But I resist. I have a real race the next day and don't want to do anything stupid the day before.

I am very proud of myself when I get home. A run that started out on a crappy-weather day ended up in good weather and was itself a pretty good performance. I'm still not fast, but my consistency is improving. That is very valuable to me. I top off the day by doing all of my core exercises. I am up to 12 pullups, 40 situps, and 25 pushups. I extend my planks to 60 seconds, no mean feat, I assure you. I am getting stronger!

Saturday morning. I have to get up brutally early for this race. No, this fuckin' race, as I thought of it at 5:30 a.m. Who the hell gets up this early in the winter to go run five miles with 4,000 other idiots?


Okay. I have arranged with two other runners to meet them for warmup jogging before the race, so I have to do this. On the train across the Manhattan Bridge, the sun is beginning to peak above the horizon, and I'm leaving messages saying I'm running a few minutes late. Ultimately, I was the early one and I didn't even drive. Packet pickup was a madhouse. I really think nobody picked up their bibs Thursday or Friday. A nice walk up to 102nd street, then about a half-hour of waiting for my compatriots.

This morning I met up with Beast, a highly experienced runner and Ironman whom I've written about before, and with Kingsley, a brand-new runner who's been doing five miles several times a week for a while and is today notching his very first road race. He wants to "go all out" and set a benchmark.

We do a slow warmup of about a mile. They leave me behind as we head up hill back toward the starting line, because they need to find a john or take some extra clothes off. I just head for the starting line. I have a few minutes of walking and stretching and then the race began. I mentally wish both my friends the best of luck and get going myself.

The warmup paid off. I was able to maintain and ten minute/mile pace and keep my heart rate right around 155 almost the whole time. I walked very briefly three times, but only at places I'd previously planned and none of them up hills. I ran every single hill that day!

Now, I had forgotten my bottle of HEED when we took off for the warmup and only remembered this when I was well past the first water tables and was getting thirsty. The second water table either wasn't there or I missed it, so I was in real need when I finally hit the last water table about a third of a mile before Cat Hill. I took my time drinking the whole cup of water and then got going again. The break really helped and I was able to conquer Cat Hill, even though I so wanted to slow to a walk at every step. I flipped off the cat, as I've been counseled to do, and continued my run.

I really LIKE this race route. It isn't one NYRR uses too often, but but having the start and finish lines where they do for this five-miler is fantastic. It means the start is a downhill start - always nice, you know. And it means the end is a long, flat straightaway topped off by a curving slight downhill - just the thing to help a tired runner finish strong.

And finish strong I did. I had no intention of doing so (I wasn't really racing this one anyway), but that competitive instinct kicked in when the first runner passed me from behind at a sprint. I ratcheted up my speed by notches, setting my sights on two ladies in front of me who were also working for it and determined to pass them before the finish line, and finished very well. It felt good, and I think the two weeks of (lousy) speedwork might have paid off there. It was easier to get that speed up than I expected and my recovery after the finish was much faster than in previous races. The graph really tells the tale. It wasn't a fast run, but it was solid, nearly continuous running. I'll get faster as training progresses.

The bagels were of above-average quality and they had hot chocolate, too. Sweet. NYRR put on a really nice race this time. It's the Fred Lebow Classic - and what better course than one where you pass his statue about a half-mile before the finish?

I didn't nap when I got home. I showered and went back in to town to meet a friend for lunch and do some scouting for birthday gifts. It was a nice lunch with a social worker friend who just got her license and is looking for placement in a CF clinic somewhere. Good luck to you, Melissa.

--doduloo doodlelooo doodaloo *wavy fingers*---

And we're back. Sunday morning, the sun is out and we're in a happy lull before the snowstorm. They're expecting about 4" of snow. Yeah, right.

My legs are sore as hell. They were after the run all day yesterday, too. I'm about to go out and walk for awhile. I have to go back into town for a prescription anyhow. The soreness in my legs bothers me, not because of the simple fact of being sore (My overall workout yesterday was a shade over six miles - and, yes, my footpod needs recalibrating - and that's quite a go for legs at the beginning of training, epecially with no walking on hills.) More worrisome is that it indicates damage and that I didn't take care of my legs correctly yesterday. An ice bath would have been advisable. And the sodium naproxen I took right after the race? Well, I might as well have stuck the Aleve to the outside of my legs with tape, for all the good they did. I also didn't sleep well last night, like I supposed I would. Lots of tossing and turning.

I said last year at this time I was going to join a gym and I didn't. Money is a problem. The YMCA is not as cheap as I'd thought, as it turns out, and it makes it near-equitable with re-joining MPHC (Manhattan Plaza Health Club). The advantage to MPHC is the climbing wall, which I should get back to as part of keeping up some upper-body strength. It's also in close proximity to Spaeth, where I work for most of the year, meaning I can go there after work on crappy weather days and jog, spin, swim, lift, or climb. And it's gotta be better than cluttering up my own place with exercise equipment that won't get enough use. I better do it now, though, as they (like the YMCA) are waving the joining fees during January.

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